Last week my son KC asked me to have a Bible study on Saturday. He also asked me to do the preparing, which God is a constant guide in for me but I hadn't actively done in a while. So in the course of the week I got one of my daily insights from Charles Swindoll that triggered a very good lesson. As typical with me, I go a long way around the barn to get to a main point, and this time we discussed, among other things, how God has previewed everything in the New Testament in the Old Testament; a bit about the nature of Jesus and how it deepens and expands the concept of His sacrifice; and the three phases in life that were shared by Moses and Jesus. All of which got to the main point of the Swindoll message: Moses had just come from being a Prince of Egypt into exile; and the historical trend here would have been to gather an army of band of followers, and attempt the overthrow of the regime that sought his life. The personal trend here would be to find a place and a patron to allow him to live approximately how he had in Egypt. But instead he accepted the offer of Jethro of Midian to come live with him in obscurity in the desert. Get it? He accepted obscurity. Just as Jesus had. Not by being born a man, mind you, but in learning His stepfather's trade, and supporting His mother and siblings with it, until the time of His ministry- a 2 1/2 decade long period of which the Bible says ABSOLUTELY NOTHING- just as the 40-year period Moses was about to go through. And it was not in the Bible not just because it was irrelevant to God's story, but because its irrelevance was relevant. They had to be willing to irrelevance before God could use them relevantly.
All of which either has a tie or no tie to the title of this piece, which I am slowly getting to. I tried to listen to Ed Bousman on the internet this morning, only to be frustrated by whatever it is in my security that blocks his broadcast. I've been through these things with God enough to know that it means one of two things (outside of my own computer incompetence): either I haven't been paying attention to Him lately, and He's in no mood to let me off for free; or, He has something to tell me through another media. Rather than seek glory by muscling my way through whatever the "Bousman block" was (see Martin rule #3), I went to the alternate media of the Blackhawk Hour on TV.
Before he began his sermon, the pastor tied into it with a sad story for his congregation. A song leader's wife had had an ultrasound early in the week, and a comfirming follow-up a few days later, which showed that the little girl she was carrying would be born without a brain.
Wow, how do you deal with something like that? Their story is between their congregation and them. For me, I look at it that everyone's first thought is, WHY? "How does a loving God allow such things to happen?" People ask this all the time, whether it be about the shattered lives in Tuscaloosa or Rikuzen-Takata, or about the presence of crime, disease, or ticks and mosquitoes in this world.
Our human minds and human pride tell us to say to God, "How dare You allow something like that?" Or those who are never-believers say, "There is another proof that God doesn't exist." But I decided to humble myself at this news- which pulled at my heart, though I don't know and quite possibly will never meet the principals- and this is what God gave me to understand.
We as mortals have always had and always will have a flawed perception of God's interaction with our world. And that began at the beginning. Adam and Eve are said to have "realized that they were naked" after the fall, but what does that mean? That it suddenly went from right to wrong to be nude? Not quite, my friend. Adam was told that because of his sin, he would die. What we forget is, that the body he had at the time of the fall WOULD NOT HAVE DIED. It was immortal and glorified, like an angel of flesh; but sin physically changed that body to one like we wear now. Flawed, mortal, and subject to all these hardships. And all creation was changed as well; where once it served the couple and and was glorified with them, it too was now a mortal world, bounded by death, working against them as it had once worked for them, and as Paul said in Romans 8, groaning right along with us to get back to that original state we threw away.
(oh, wait, Adam and Eve did that, you say? The reason why it happened to Adam, that it was allowed to be the defining moment, is that EVERY ONE OF US WOULD HAVE EVENTUALLY DONE THE SAME THING. Adam was the forerunner, he was all that we are and could've been. Thus his original sin was ours as well.)
And because of that, babies are born without brains, and tsunamis sweep away lives, and tornadoes destroy the fabric of communities. Because this is a mortal world- and that's what mortal worlds do. God did not make it flawed; He made it so well that, even changing from glorified to mortal, it took from Adam to Moses before a man went from living 900+ years to a more modern 120. And in a mortal world, which we chose by Adam's/our original sin, babies are born without brains.
But to those of faith, this is a tribulation where you humble yourself before God- the kind of humbling that gives up all your dreams and all your future plans- and come to Him for help. Which is what this couple is doing, as they continue to attempt their ministry even as the sad story lurches towards its denouement. At the end of my Bible study we looked at the verse where Paul explains that we should work our everyday jobs without complaining, working as though we work for Christ rather than our bosses. And for some of us, that's a hardship and a challenge. And this couple faces a far bigger challenge, but its basic nature is the same- a hardship made necessary by the fallen nature of the world. And to face it, they will have to do the very same thing- work through it as one works for Christ.